From May 3 to 8, the first edition of the Brussels Padel Open will be held on the Tour & Taxis site. Close-up on a sporting discipline that is gaining momentum and which is fueling new economic challenges.
The excitement is palpable on the Brussels site of Tour & Taxis. In a few days, the very first Brussels Padel Open will be played under the metal frame of the Gare Maritime, an architectural gem honored with the Special Jury Prize at the 2021 Mipim Awards for its unique design and energy neutrality.
The excitement is palpable on the Brussels site of Tour & Taxis. In a few days, the very first Brussels Padel Open will be played under the metal frame of the Gare Maritime, an architectural gem honored with the Special Jury Prize at the 2021 Mipim Awards for its unique design and energy neutrality. The former Brussels freight station – inaugurated a little over 100 years ago and completely renovated in 2020 – will indeed welcome from May 3 to 8 the biggest stars of padel, a booming sport that mixes leaping sensations squash and tennis combined. For the first time, the international championship of the World Padel Tour will therefore have a 100% Belgian stage, in an exceptional setting, to further familiarize the general public with this discipline which is mainly played in doubles. “We hope to attract 15,000 spectators for the various meetings and above all to create a global buzz around the event because it is the first time that a round of the World Padel Tour will be held in a listed building”, intone Nicolas Lhoist and Vincent Laureyssens, respectively CEO and Executive President of the Brussels Padel Open. Enthusiastic, the two men announced a televised broadcast of the Belgian tournament in more than 70 countries and were counting on this first edition in Brussels to establish, in time and in the memories, a prestigious meeting for which they acquired the organization rights. for the years 2022 and 2023. Nicolas Lhoist and Vincent Laureyssens are not at their first attempt. Last year, the two entrepreneurs specializing in events and marketing had already distinguished themselves by organizing the Knokke Padel Exhibition on the Belgian coast. The sporting event also attracted more than 15,000 spectators around a “cage” installed at the famous Royal Zoute club. Confident, the duo then tackled the world championship and therefore won, against all odds, the international call for tenders for the Belgian stage of the World Padel Tour against two monsters of the organization of sporting events. international, Golazo and Tennium. Attractive, the challenge of the Brussels Padel Open is not yet won. With a budget of around 2 million euros, the two organizers hope to be just in balance for this first Brussels edition thanks to the income generated above all by ticketing, catering, VIP formulas and, of course, sponsorship. Main partner of the event, the Ardent leisure group has thus invested 150,000 euros to imprint its Circus brand in the tournament, whose exact and complete name is the Circus Brussels Padel Open Trophy Belfius (the Belgian bank insurer being the other big sponsor of the competition). Sensitive to the media fallout that such an event can generate abroad, the Brussels authorities also finance a small part of the Brussels Padel Open. The tourist organization Visit Brussels – which promotes the Brussels-Capital Region but also the City of Brussels – is a partner of the tournament and has just devoted a double advertising campaign to it, in the street and on social networks. . “We are obviously delighted to welcome this sporting event of international level in our capital and capital of Europe, underlines Sven Gatz, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region in charge of Budget, Finance and Image of Brussels. This will be an opportunity to highlight one of our architectural gems and the event will help to boost the tourist attraction of the capital.” With the first edition of the Brussels Padel Open organized in an enchanting setting, the public authorities therefore hope to rediscover this year some of the “postcard” effect generated by the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Brussels in 2019 with, at the key, a return on investment for the city and the surrounding region. Under the impressive roof of the Gare Maritime which will crown the ephemeral padel court from May 3 to 8, a “village” entirely dedicated to this racket sport will also be deployed with stands and exhibitors. Visitors will thus have the opportunity to discover more about this discipline thanks to the various brands of equipment manufacturers present but also, why not, to embark on the great entrepreneurial adventure of padel with the complicity of field builders and other suppliers of materials also accessible. under the tents of this commercial village. Confident, the organizers of the first Brussels Padel Open are counting on the real enthusiasm that this sport is experiencing today to attract the curious and answer all their questions. “Padel is in full development everywhere in Europe, recalls Vincent Laureyssens, executive president of the Belgian tournament. In Belgium, there are already 100,000 practitioners today, which represents double the number of hockey players. Of course, tennis still dominates with 200,000 Belgians playing it, but when you look at the growth curves, you can expect padel to overtake tennis by 2025.” The number of courts reserved for padel also continues to increase. Today there are a thousand on our territory but this number could well double in the next three years. Many projects for the conversion of tennis courts and, above all, the construction of new padel “cages” are indeed on the agenda, sometimes even supported by large investment funds – Triton, CVC, 777 (the new owner du Standard)… – and by great businessmen. The “serial entrepreneur” Marc Coucke, a big fan of the discipline, thus created Padelworld last year, via his investment company Alychlo, to strongly develop this sporting activity in Belgium and in neighboring countries. According to the organizers of the Brussels Padel Open, the Flemish businessman already owns 250 padel courts in the Benelux and would like to double this number by 2025. Sports personalities have also invested in this hobby, like the Diable Rouge Yannick Carrasco who has his own club in Vilvoorde, or even tennis and football players Steve Darcis and Guillaume Gillet who opened together, barely four months ago, the largest padel center in Wallonia (Planet Padel and its nine pitches) in Saint-Georges-sur-Meuse, in the Liège region. Beyond the fun aspect of this discipline, which attracts a growing number of players, the economic dimension of this sport also explains this growing success. “You can easily put two padel courts, or even three, on the surface of a tennis court at a very reasonable price since the construction of a court only costs 25,000 euros, provided that a base in concrete already exists, explains Nicolas Lhoist, co-organizer of the Belgian tournament.The economic model of padel is highly profitable, especially since the ground requires no maintenance and that you can access it via a reservation system that one manages from his smartphone and which ensures the opening of the doors as well as the led lighting on the ground.” And his partner adds, with a smile: “Not to mention the conviviality of this sport which is played by four and which, therefore, boosts attendance at the catering industry: who says four players, generally says four rounds in the club -house while tennis matches are most often played in pairs…” Active in events and team building via his companies Knokke Out and People First, Nicolas Lhoist has also decided to invest himself in padel with the development of new infrastructures in Belgium. The man, who already owns two padel courts in Rochefort, will build five more in the region, as well as in Chaudfontaine where he has planned the deployment of 12 courts by the summer of 2023. Small scoop for Trends -Trends: the famous Knokke Out club in Waterloo will soon also be converted into a padel temple with 40 new courts and an entire country club dedicated to “healthy eating”. This unique place of leisure, built on the ashes of a highly festive place, should be operational within a year. While waiting for these inaugurations, Nicolas Lhoist and his accomplice of the Brussels Padel Open are focusing above all on the organization of the Belgian stage of the World Padel Tour which will be inaugurated in just a few days. “We want to create a prestigious event that will be exclusive in terms of experience, sums up the executive president Vincent Laureyssens. The 60 best players in the world will be present and they will deliver a unique show. With the Brussels Padel Open, we want to install this place and this long-term international meeting. Nicolas and I are entrepreneurs-investors and our idea is to duplicate this model and therefore export it. If the shareholders who manage the World Padel Tour trust us, we would like to organize a similar tournament in Geneva and also perhaps in Saint-Tropez.” Two cities which, of course, do not have a superb “Brussels-style” Maritime Station but which could, thanks to their respective notoriety, further increase the resonance of padel throughout the world…